Identify children with Bhopal disaster defects: Group

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1984 Bhopal gas tragedyBhopal, Dec 1 : There is an urgent need to identify and treat children with congenital malformations born to parents exposed to the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, an experts group said on Tuesday.

The Sambhavna Trust Clinic said far too many children were being born with malformations to parents with acute exposure to toxic gas that leaked from the now-shut Union Carbide factory or chronic exposure to contaminated water.

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The night of December 2-3 will mark the 31st anniversary of the disaster when tonnes of toxic gas leaked from the Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, killing thousands.

The clinic, which provides free medical care to survivors of the disaster and those exposed to contaminated groundwater, has completed a study involving over 1,000 people from about 20,000 families.

The victims include those exposed to the gas in 1984, those exposed to contaminated water, those exposed to both gas and subsequently water and the unexposed.

For the last three years, the clinic’s researchers have collected information on diagnosed cases of TB, cancer, paralysis, reproductive health of women, physical growth, mental and social development of infants and children as well as birth defects.

Sambhavna has identified over 2,500 children with possible birth defects in the study population. Of these, over 1,700 were diagnosed with congenital anomaly.

According to Ritesh Pal, the field coordinator for the study, the findings were expected to be published in international peer reviewed journals within six months.

Pal’s colleague Afreen said that so far 164 children with mental retardation, cerebral palsy and other congenital anomalies had been referred to government and non-government health care centres.

Over 31,000 survivors of the disaster and residents from the neighbourhood of the factory exposed to contaminated ground water are registered for treatment at the clinic.—IANS

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